By air and land and sea, each year shoebox gifts are delivered across the globe and last week’s Operation Christmas Child collection week in the South Central Ohio Area added more than 13,000 to the millions of shoebox gifts donated worldwide this year.
Helen Hiestand, a coordinator with Operation Christmas Child, South Central Ohio Area, said regional efforts brought in 13,792 shoebox gifts, surpassing the 12,300 goal set for the collection week.
“The response from churches, organizations and individuals has been amazing and heart-warming,” Hiestand said, adding that each one of the boxes represents a child.
Throughout the last week boxes filled with necessity items like school supplies, coloring books and crayons, soap, wash cloths, socks, small toys, and letters of encouragement were collected at drop-off points and relay centers across the five-county area.
The South Central Ohio Area that includes Highland, Adams, Brown, Clinton and Fayette counties.
The shoebox gifts gathered throughout the five counties over collection week will be shipped to a processing center, and from there the shoebox gifts will make their way to destinations across the globe.
Operation Christmas Child is a year-round project of international Christian relief and evangelism through the organization Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries. For many of these children a gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.
Hiestand said previously that while there are so many children that need help in our own communities, there are civic and church organizations that step up to meet those needs every day. But, it’s not the same for many across the globe, and she said that packing a shoebox gift is a small way to help.
And the shoebox gifts, given in faith by donor communities from around the world, allow churches in the receiving communities to invite otherwise “unchurched” children to receive a gift and share in the message of love.
“It’s not just a shoebox gift,” Hiestand previously told The Times-Gazette. “It’ll change a child, a family, a community.”
The South Central Ohio Area has a team of 21 volunteers who work throughout the year to share information on the power of a simple shoe box gift, offering information and resources on how to make a difference, Hiestand said.
For information about volunteering or questions about how to become involved, contact Hiestand at 937-725-8192. For more information about the organization, go to www.samaritanspurse.org.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.